The Grateful Dead Nike SB Dunks came and went in an chaotic instant, selling out so quickly and fetching such insane resale prices that most true Deadheads were boxed out. That's the cost when your favorite jam band's aesthetic has been adopted by a trend, sparked by brands like Online Ceramics and reaching its apex with an official Nike collaboration.
But many fans didn't want anything to do with Nike anyway. Deadheads vocalized their frustration when the collaboration was announced on the Grateful Dead's Instagram page, where comments included numerous references to Nike's less than savory history of labor practices. "Jerry [Garcia] would be ashamed of this sweatshop produced garbage," one comment read.
For those looking for Garcia's stamp of approval — or at least his estate's — Keen's sandals dressed up in the late frontman's artwork are a far more suitable alternative to Nike's limited offering. The Portland-based footwear brand is releasing four different sandals based on two of Garcia's watercolor paintings. And the best news: they're actually attainable.
Four sandals, two artworks — The works at hand are New York At Night and Banyan Tree, which have both been applied to the Newport H2 and Unkeek. The former is prototypical hiking sandal with a high-traction outsole, while the latter gets weirder with paracord webbing adorning the upper.
Because the sandals don't trade in obvious (now) trendy Dead visuals and instead utilize artwork from one of the founding members, wearing them will elicit an "if you know you know" response. Still, it won't take a devoted Deadhead to appreciate the colorful treatment. The two artworks veer towards the psychedelic, unsurprisingly, making for a wavy sandal of the moment. We're on record supporting the rise in popularity for men's sandals, and these Keens serve as more evidence for our case. No one will bemoan you exposing more feet when they're outfitted in these groovy units.
Scoop 'em up now — There's no need to wrestle with the Nike SNKRS app and enterprising vultures armed with bots looking for a quick buck. All four Garcia sandals are available now on Keen's site for $150. That's not exactly cheap for a sandal, but it's still a hell of a lot cheaper than the $900 minimum buy-in for the Dunks. Plus, these actually look like something real Deadheads would wear.